George Whitefield read this 4 times through on his knees. After dipping into this, you will agree that it is the best commentary on the Bible ever written.
Calvin, John – Commentary on the Bible
Jamieson, Fausset, Brown – Commentary Critical & Explanatory on the Whole Bible 1871 Written by Robert Jamieson (Gen.-Job, Church of Scotland), Andrew Fausset (Psalms-Malachi, Anglican) and David Brown (N.T., Free Church of Scotland)
Generally reformed. Known as the J.F.B. Commentary. Highly recommended.
*** ‘A really standard work. We consult it continually, and with growing interest. Mr. Fausset’s portion strikes us as being of the highest order.’ ‘Of this I have a very high opinion… It is to some extent a compilation and condensation of other men’s thoughts, but it is sufficiently original to claim a place in every minister’s library: indeed it contains so great a variety of information that if a man had no other exposition he would find himself at no great loss if he possessed this and used it diligently.’ – Charles Spurgeon
Parts of the Bible
You will love the psalms more than ever after reading this book! Here is an easy to read, fresh view into the background, history, development and teachings of the Psalms, from the best, uncompromisingly conservative scholarship. Includes chapters on the Messiah in the Psalms, Personal Religion, and the Imprecatory Psalms (the best on the subject). It also includes appendices on the development of psalm singing in the OT, its practice in the NT, and also throughout church history.
Binnie was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.
Edersheim, Alfred – The Bible History of the Old Testament (1887)
Edersheim’s work abounds with intriguing scholarship mediated through a child-like faith in the O.T.’s profound teachings. Read it cover to cover!
Edersheim was converted from Orthodox Judaism by the influence of John Rabbi Duncan and others. He became a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland, and then entered the ministry of the Anglican Church the second half of his life. Edersheim was a leading conservative scholar of his day.
Background to the Bible
Berkhof, Louis – New Testament Introduction (1944) 225 pp.
A handy conservative reference for background info on each book of the NT
Berkhof, Louis – Biblical Archaeology (1928) 200 pp.
Excellent introduction to a vast topic from a conservative
The classic introduction to Biblical hermeneutics (interpretation of the Bible). Filled with Biblical references and examples.
Inspiration of the Bible
Gaussen, Louis – Theopneustia. The Bible: Its Divine Origin & Inspiration Deduced from Internal Evidence & the Testimonies of Nature, History & Science Buy (1867) 422 pp. It is also here on HTML
This is the best and fullest book on the inspiration of the Bible, being Gaussen’s most well known work. “Theopneustia” is the Greek word in 2 Tim. 3:16 for “inspired”, or more literally, “God-breathed”.
One highlight among many is Gaussen responding to the objection against inspiration that the NT writers often misquote the OT. Gaussen lists and superbly analyzes the dozen or so ways in which the NT writers reference the OT (literally, in paraphrase, summarizing, interpreting, applying, giving the spirit of, combining the teachings of, etc.).
Alexander, Archibald – Evidences of the Authenticity, Inspiration, Canonical Authority of the Holy Scriptures (1906) 326 pp. This is a later expanded edition that includes A Brief Outline of the Evidences of the Christian Religion (1825) and parts of The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained (1833).
Kayser, Phillip & Wilbur Pickering – ‘“Has God Indeed Said?”: The Preservation of the Text of the New Testament’ (2004) 35 pp. Kayser wrote the first two sections, Pickering the third section
Kayser is especially helpful in listing out the Biblical verses and presuppositions that factor into, and should guide, Textual Criticism. He and Pickering also overwhelmingly demonstrate the corruption of the critical texts and the superiority of the Majority Texts.
Out of all the systematic theologies that have been written in history, it is the webmaster’s opinion that Calvin’s is still the best and remains THE classic through the centuries. Other systematics may be more detailed, comprehensive, etc., but you will not find another written with the practical and experiential fervor with which Calvin writes; and this, the heart fully devoted and offered to God through the medium of solid, pure Scriptural truth is something of a greatly higher price than any of the other positive qualities that later systematicians may have contributed, and is rarely found.
Berkhof, Louis – Systematic Theology Buy 784 pp. The online edition does not includes Berkhof’s Introduction to the Study of Systematic Theology (which was previously a separate work but intended to be read with his Systematic Theology), whereas the print version linked does.
This brief, one volume systematic theology has been a standard in seminaries. It was originally intended to be an abbreviated summary of the thought of Bavinck’s four volume Reformed Dogmatics. Berkhof excels at surveying doctrines through history, showing the Scriptural support for them, and comparing different views as they have been classically expounded.
Robertson, O. Palmer – The Christ of the Covenants Buy (1987) 320 pp.
This is the modern classic expounding the unfolding of God’s covenants through Scripture, and why Dispensationalism is wrong.
Bavinck, Herman – ‘The Divine & Human Natures of Christ’ no date or source info
Hodge, Charles – The Nature of Tongues from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, 12:10, five paragraphs
Argues for the traditional interpretation that Biblical “tongues” were real, intelligible, foreign languages, not unintelligible babble, contra charismatics and pentecostals.
The Holy Spirit Enlightening the Mind (1843) 20 pp. from his The Office & Work of the Holy Spirit
A classic, book length exposition of the beloved third person of the Trinity. This as well as his book on Justification reflect his work as professor of Systematic Theology, following Dr. Thomas Chalmers in that chair in 1847 in the New College of the Free Church.
Berkhof, Louis – The Assurance of Faith: the Firm Foundation of the Christian Hope Buy 86 pp.
Hodge, Charles – Commentary on Rom. 5:12-21 on Adam, Original Sin, Imputation, Christ, Justification, etc.
Alexander, Archibald – The Doctrine of Original Sin as Held by the Church, both Before & After the Reformation (1830) 23 pp. in The Biblical Repertory & Theological Review
Murray, John – The Imputation of Adam’s Sin Buy 98 pp.
A defense of the legal nature of the atonement based in justice for punishing sins, and Christ being a substitute for his people.
Hodge, Charles – Regeneration Necessary to Perceive the Beauty and Excellency of Divine Things Originally entitled, “Regeneration & The New Divinity Trend”, taken from the Princeton Review (1846). It is a review of “Regeneration & the Manner of Its Occurrence, A Sermon from John 5:24″ by Samuel H. Cox, D.D., which advocated some common philosophic arguments against the doctrine of monergistic regeneration.
Hodge refutes the synergistic teaching that the natural man’s decision to trust Christ must come from an indifferent moral disposition and shows that the only reasonable explanation for holy decisions is that they must spring from holy first causes and inclinations.
Colquhoun, John – A View of Evangelical Repentance from the Sacred Records ToC Buy (Edinburgh: Thomsons, Brothers, 1825) 215 pp.
Colquhoun was a minister in the Church of Scotland in the early 1800’s.
Watson, Thomas – The Doctrine of Repentance
Colquhoun, John – A View of Saving Faith from Sacred Records Buy (1824)
You will not finding heart-penetrating writing like this amongst modern writers. Colquhoun was one of Scotland’s best writers, being a minister in the Church of Scotland in the early-1800’s and a follower in the line of the Marrow Men.
This is the standard classic on the doctrine of justification. Read it first. Being a “justified sinner” is a contradiction to a Roman Catholic, it is the highest glory of the gospel to the believer. For many more reasons why you should read this work, read this review at A Purtian’s Mind.
Bonar, Horatius – The Everlasting Righteousness, or, How Shall Man be Just with God? Buy (1873) 240 pp.
Perhaps the best book on the Gospel ever written.
Cunningham, William – The Church of the First Two Centuries: the Doctrines of Grace from his Historical Theology, Ch. 7, 6 paragraphs
A defense of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints.
God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy, as Related to His Power, Wisdom, and Sincerity 1890 30 pp. from his Discussions, vol. 1, p. 282
Silversides, David – The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed Buy (2005) 128 pp.
This is the most extensive work defending the Biblical view of the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel. It also includes a valuable, extensive anthology of excerpts from historic, reformed writers demonstrating that the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel has always been a regular part of reformed gospel.
Evangelical Arminianism is the popular teaching of the church at large today. It is often hard to pin down in order to analyze carefully. Here Girardeau carefully articulates it and contrasts it to the Biblical truths of Election, Reprobation and Justification, which fully exposes the inadequacies of Evangelical Arminianism. An easy to read book, but in-depth with much meat.
Hodge, Charles – Arminianism & Grace (1881) 31 pp.
Growth in Grace
An excellent short work on doctrine of the Church. If the two volumes of Bannerman are too long for you, this is the next best thing. Both Binnie and Bannerman were of the Free Church of Scotland.
Girardeau, John – The Importance of the Office of Deacon (1881) 29 pp.
M’Crie, Thomas – The Unity of the Church: Her Divisions & their Removal, Two Discourses Buy (1821) 174 pp.
This is the go-to classic and best work on Church unity available. M’Crie looks to and waits upon the Lord to fulfill His scriptural promises that His church should be one. We are to depend upon God pouring out His Spirit in bringing men to fuller light and convictions of scriptural truth upon which to unite, rather than retreating from the scriptural truth brought to light by previous generations.
Burroughs, Jeremiah – Gospel Worship, or, the Right Manner of Sanctifying the Name of God in General, And Particularly in these Three Great Ordinances, Namely, 1. Hearing the Word. 2. Receiving the Lord’s Supper, & 3. Prayer Buy (1647)
Fentiman, Travis – ‘Do We Sing Christ’s Name in the Psalter?’ (2016) 54 paragraphs
Fentiman demonstrates conclusively: Yes.
Williamson, G.I. – The Singing of Psalms in the Worship of God no date, 58 paragraphs
The Scottish Psalmody Buy
This is the definitive and best psalter that is currently available, it being the traditional psalter of the Free Church of Scotland. The text used in the psalter is the same as the Scottish Psalter of 1650.
Most of the 192 tunes this psalter contains (with suggested tunes for each psalm), are the historic tunes that these psalms have been sung to throughout history: from the time of Calvin’s Geneva, to the Huguenots of France, to the Covenanters on the battlefields of Scotland, through the 1800′s in the Free Church of Scotland.
For assistance in learning these precious tunes, that you will learn to love with familiarity, see this easy-to-use website. Two or three suggested tunes from The Scottish Psalmody are linked with audio files for each psalm. Many of the tunes can also be found on this Youtube channel. All of the tunes are also being planned to be put up on this website.
This is a split-leaf psalter, meaning that the pages are cut into a top-half and a bottom half. The top has the music and the bottom has the words. This way you can choose a tune from many, and flip to it, for any given psalm. For help in using a split leaf psalter, see ‘How to Use a Split-Leaf Psalter’.
If you have trouble acquiring enough copies of The Scottish Psalmody for your family (or twenty copies for when all your friends come over; 200 for your whole church?), contact the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), which may be able to help.
M’Crie, Thomas – Lectures on Christian Baptism (1850) 230 pp.
Miller, Samuel – Infant Baptism Scriptural & Reasonable, & Baptism by Sprinkling, pt. 1, 2, 3 & 4 Buy (1835) 163 pp.
Bruce, Robert – Sermons on the Sacrament (1617)
This has been rightly the most influential work on the Lord’s Supper in Scottish Chuch history. With so much confusion on the efficacy of the Supper today, read here of the classic reformed position.
Willison, John – A Sacramental Directory, or a Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of a Communion Sabbath (d. 1750) 318 pp.
This work consists of three sections: (1) Containing Directions how to prepare for a Communion Sabbath, (2) Containing Directions for the Right Spending of a Communion Sabbath when it is Come, (3) Containing Directions Concerning our Behavior After Partaking.
Winzer, Matthew – The True History of Paedo-Communion from the Confessional Presbyterian #3 (2007), p. 27-36
Paedo-Communion is the practice of letting young children partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Musical Instruments in Worship
Girardeau, John – Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church Buy (1888) 208 pp.
The classic, book length, Biblical defense against musical instruments in worship. This was written at a time when the presbyterian churches were capitulating to Anglican worship practices. Girardeau was one of the last of the faithful ministers to uphold the old historic reformed view and practice.
Preparation for the Ministry
Alexander, Archibald – An Address to Candidates for the Ministry: on the Importance of Aiming at Eminent Piety in Making their Preparation for the Sacred Office (1832) 20 pp.
Church of Scotland – A Humble Acknowledgement of the Sins of Those Preparing for Ministry (1651)
Those preparing for the ministry, try yourselves by this heart searching and convicting piece, and look to Christ for more grace to walk worthily of Him.
Dabney, Robert – ‘What is a Call to the Ministry?’ no date or source info
Are you called to the Ministry? Read this and find out.
Hodge, Charles – ‘On the Necessity of the Knowledge of the Original Languages of the Scriptures’ (1832) 18 pp.
Miller, Samuel – The Importance of a Thorough & Adequate Course of Preparatory Study for the Holy Ministry (1832) 37 pp.
Alexander, Archibald – ‘Introduction to Pastoral Reminiscences’ (1849) 5 pp.
On the heart of a pastor.
Church of Scotland – A Humble Acknowledgment of the Sins of the Ministry of Scotland 1651
Pastors and Elders, let us grieve and break our hearts over our sins in Christ’s ministry. May this cause us to look to Christ for all of our righteousness, and may it spur us on to walk more humbly and closely with Him as we work in His Vineyard. Use this in secret prayer throughout the year.
Church members, bring reformation to our land and humbly encourage your elders with this article.
Hodge, Charles – “He Preached Christ”, Acts 9:20, Sermon Preached… at the Memorial Services… [for] James Waddel Alexander, D.D. (1859) 17 pp.
Sacred Rhetoric: A Course of Lectures on Preaching Buy (1870) 361 pp.
A classic textbook on preaching, specifically on how to prepare, build and deliver sermons.
The Public Preaching of Women (1879) 32 paragraphs from the The Southern Presbyterian Review for October
The argument against women preaching
Beeke, Joel – How to Evaluate Sermons Buy 48 pp.
Very good help to preachers in evaluating the preaching of their sermons. Filled with scripture, spirituality and wisdom.
Miller, Samuel – Doctrinal Integrity Buy including The Utility and Importance of Creeds & Confessions (1839, 138 pp.) and Adherence to our Doctrinal Standards (1833, in 3 letters) with a Preface by Kevin Reed (1989)
The classic piece showing the Biblical warrant and necessity for creeds in the church, and the great importance of officers upholding them with their vows.
‘A Watchman’ – A History of Popery, Including its Origin, Progress, Doctrines, Practice, Institutions & Fruits, to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century (1834) 410 pp. There is an Introductory Essay by Samuel Miller
Silversides, David – The Antichrist: a Biblical & Confessional View Buy (2002) 20 pp.
This is one of the best short, easy to read explanations and arguments for Historicism, the view of prophecy that the events of the book of Revelation occur throughout Christian history, from the First Coming to the Second Coming.
Silversides exegetes 2 Thess. 2, 1 John 2:18, and other passages. He also defends why the doctrine that the Roman Catholic Papcy is the Antichrist is an important part of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith. Siversides is a Reformed Presbyterian of Ireland minister.
This is perhaps the best medium-size historicist commentary on the book of Revelation. It thoroughly uses scripture to interpret itself, is balanced, is hermeneutically on target, has an easy to discern outline, is brief, is easily consulted, answers all the major questions, and generally gets one in the right ballpark.
While this commentary is excellent and highly recommended, do be aware that Steele was the fountain-head of the ‘Steelites’ who have extreme and dangerous views of ecclesiology and covenanting. Steele only mentions such views in a few isolated sentences in the book. This should not detract from the value of the book.
Alexander, Archibald – Universalism False & Unscriptural: an Essay on the Duration & Intensity of Future Punishment (1851) 104 pp.
Here is an example of Alexander’s polemics against the rising tide of his day that denied the eternity and retributive nature of Hell.
The Christian Life
Isbell, Sherman – The Temperate Life (2001) 23 paragraphs
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . temperance.” Gal. 5:22-23 Isbell mines gems from past worthies for insights on how to live a spirit-filled, temperate life. Highly commended.
‘Conversation’ (1835) 57 paragraphs, from his Letters on Clerical Manners & Habits
‘Religious Conversation’ (1835) 37 paragraphs, from his Letters on Clerical Manners & Habits
‘The Christian Education of Children & Youth’ (1840) 33 pp. bound with a Report on the Subject of Parochial [church-governed] Schools, by J.J. Janeway, 23 pp.
Guthrie, William – ‘A Sermon on Sympathy’ 12 pp.
Gray, Andrew – Loving Christ & Fleeing Temptation Buy
Gray was one of the young, bright shining lights of the Scottish covenanters. In reading this you will find out why Joel Beeke has so highly commended it.
Heywood, Oliver – Heart Treasure, or the Furniture of the Soul (1666) 420 pp.
Charles Spurgeon: ‘…the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men.’
Richard Baxter: ‘such a book of letters the world never saw the like.’
ed. Harsha, D.A. – The Christian’s Present for All Seasons: Containing Devotional Thoughts of Eminent Divines Buy (1866) 570 pp.
Grow in your closeness to our holy God in prayer immediately. This is the best book there is in learning how to pray well, with feeling, in scriptural form, balance and appropriateness. The whole book is composed of extended prayers, using scripture language. Flip anywhere inside it and start praying. ‘If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.’ 1 Pet. 4:11
Brown, John, of Wamphray – A Pious & Elaborate Treatise concerning Prayer & the Answer of Prayer Buy (d. 1679) 316 pp.
Church of Scotland – Causes of the Lord’s Wrath Against Scotland (1651) 10 reasons listed and then expounded on
This will break your heart. It is perhaps the most searching and thorough confession of sin ever confessed by a national church over its land. Examine your own life before it every year. May our churches and lands confess our sins before God likewise.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14
This is hands-down, the best short treatment of the Imprecatory Psalms (psalms that call God’s curses down upon His enemies). Pure gold.
Brooks, Thomas – The Secret Key to Heaven, or 20 Arguments for Closet Prayer Buy (d. 1680) 240 pp.
Helpful practical advice for those who lead in public prayers, especially for ministers. We should study prayer, not for the purpose of artificiality, but so that we can better articulate our own thoughts and desires, contour our prayers most fittingly to our and other’s circumstances, and to express a greater range and depth of Biblical and godly sentiment.
Letters on the Observance of the Monthly Concert in Prayer (1845) 120 pp.
Boston, Thomas – The Art of Man-Fishing 110 pp.
Kennedy, John – Hyper-Evangelism: Another Gospel, Though a Mighty Power Buy (1874) with a 6 paragraph introduction by Rev. Sherman Isbell
This is a spiritually insightful critique of the American, revivalist style, D.L Moody crusades that came through Scotland, which emphasized quick external professions of faith to the detriment and exclusion of a substantial, balanced and persevering Christian life. This is must reading and directly applicable to our day of Fast-Food Christianity.
The Lord’s Day
Dabney, Robert – The Christian Sabbath: its Nature, Design & Proper Observance (1882) 112 pp. Here is an HTML version. This book is also in his Discussions, vol. 1, pp. 496-550
Kayser, Phillip – Sunday as a First-Day Sabbath (1995) 51 pp.
This is the fullest contemporary treatment of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week.
Reformation & Revival
Murray, Iain – Revivals & Revivalism Buy (1994) 480 pp.
This is a modern classic. Murray shows great discernment and wisdom in his survey and analysis of the American revivals of the 1700’s and 1800’s.
Edwards, Jonathan – A Treatise on Religious Affections (†1758) 180 pp.
This was Edwards analysis of, and differentiation between true and false religious experience, comprising a defense of the 1740’s American Great Awakening as a work of God, though it had its spurious excesses.
Miller, Samuel – Revivals of Religion, pt. 1 & 2 (1833) 44 paragraphs
The Establishment Principle (Church-State Relations)
M’Crie, Thomas – ‘Brief View of the Evidence for the Exercise of Civil Authority About Religion’ (1807) from his Statement of the Difference, ch. 7.
This is the best article length defense of the Establishment Principle in church history, that both Church and State have separate jurisdictions on an equal level with each other, under the authority of the Word of God, and that the State has a moral obligation to Christ and God’s Law to profess, protect and promote the true religion. This article contains all the scriptural evidence and major arguments for the historic reformed view.
Cunningham, William – ‘The Relation Between Church & State’ Buy (1851) a lecture, published afterwards in 1863 in his Discussions on Church Principles, 19 long paragraphs
Scottish Church History
M’Crie, Thomas – The Story of the Scottish Church: from the Reformation  to the Disruption  Buy (1875) 602 pp.
This is the best longer book on Scottish church history that there is. It includes all the stirring and famous stories that the Scottish church is known for. Written by an old school presbyterian in vindication of his Church and their reformers against revisionist historians. You will come away with renewed zeal for the cause of God’s truth in our land.
A solid and concise overview of the development of Christian doctrine through history